Summer’s Lease

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“Summer starts on June 21st, three months after the start of Spring on March 21st.”

“Hang on, that can’t be right; the 24th is midsummer day, at that rate the summer only lasts six days. Oh…… Well, you might be right.”

“Look at that out there: that’s winter.”

This last being Little S’s contribution to a recent debate in our house about Summer and it’s absence.

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After the end of Whit week we had a couple of days of really ferocious weather; heavy rain and fierce winds. Of course, some people say that there’s no such thing as bad weather: only weather. By the end of the second day, when the rain had eased considerably, I really wanted to get out, at least for a short walk.

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“I’d go to Eaves Wood,” TBH advised.

She had a point, the contrast there between the relative shelter and calm of the woodland floor and the roar of the wind in the treetops is staggering; and it’s quite comforting to listen to the gales from the comfort of a cosseted spot in the woods. But I wanted to really immerse myself in the storm, so I staggered across the Lots, which were strewn with leaves and small branches.

I don’t know whether the photos convey it, but although the gales had already subsided somewhat since the previous day, it was still wild and gusty.

Just in case you were thinking that it’s all sunshine and butterflies!

Summer’s Lease

Whitsun Weekend at Home

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Last weekend the surfnslide crew came to stop for the weekend. We’ve had a few Whitsun get togethers before, both down in Herefordshire at their house and here in Silverdale. This one was all too brief, just the long weekend, but got our week off to a great start, and, to me at least, has made it feel like I’ve had a much longer break than a week. (Not a bad trick!)

As usually seems to be the case, the weather was a bit mixed, but we definitely made the most of it, filling in the time between decent spells of weather with various board games and the usual menu of chit-chat and cups of tea.

On the Saturday morning, before the storms came, we had a short stroll down to the Cove and then across the Lots, where we played frisbee for a while as you can see above.

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At the Cove some of the children wanted to explore the smelly cave and another fetid little hole they have discovered on the other side of the Cove at the base of the cliff.

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The back of the Cove is once again resplendent with a mass of small yellow flowers, I think it’s Sea Radish, although, having just read the relevant entry in ‘The Wildflower Key’, I now know how to distinguish Sea from Wild Radish, so I shall check on my next trip. Anyway, the radishes, of whatever variety, were thronged with various small insects.

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This striking red weevil like creature (I can’t find what it actually is) was the smallest I photographed.

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I think that this rather dapper chap may be some kind of Saw Fly, but there over 400 British species and my ‘Complete British Insects’ only has photographs of a handful of them.

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There were many Bumblebees, but they are constantly on the move and always hard to photograph.

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This is a Red-tailed Bumblebee, a worker. Sometimes I am slow on the uptake: it’s finally sunk in that the huge bumblebees I see, mainly in the spring, and the much smaller ones I see in the summer, are of the same species, the size difference being because queens are so much larger than workers.

On the other hand, random titbits of information seem to nestle in obscure corners of my brain. I knew, when I saw it, that this…

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…was a ladybird larva. With a bit of lazy internet research I now think it to be a 7-Spot Ladybird larva. Odd looking creature.

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There were a fair few hoverflies about too. I was pleased to capture an image of this specimen in flight, and doubly chuffed to find that it is easily identifiable, because of the pattern on the abdomen, as Episyrphus Balteatus, a very common species which apparently sometimes migrates in swarms from continental Europe. Quite a competent flier then!

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Alongside the radishes there is a substantial patch of Crosswort. My collection of herbals and plant books have little to say about this unassuming plant with it’s whirls of tiny yellow flowers, but I am always cheered to find it.

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The plant surreptitiously creeping into the righthand-side of the photo is Goosegrass or Cleavers or Stickyweed, a close relative of Crosswort. Both are Galiums, apparently from the Greek Gala meaning milk, as Goosegrass at least was sometimes used as a rennet in the production of cheese.

On the Lots, the Early Purple Orchids have finished, and the Green-winged Orchids…

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…are not far behind. According to ‘A Guide to the Wild Orchids of Great Britain and Ireland’, Green-winged Orchids were once widespread, but ‘must now be considered a threatened species’. A sobering thought.

After our short outing, the afternoon brought a terrific display of dark skies, lightning and thunder and then very heavy rain. We watched from our patio as impressive bursts of forked lightning cleaved the skies and listened to the rumbles of thunder, apparently coming from all sides. When the long threatened deluge finally arrived, we retreated inside. Quite a show while it lasted though.

Whitsun Weekend at Home

Jackdaws and Orchids on the Lots

Hagg Wood – Silverdale Green – Stankelt Road – The Lots – The Cove

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A much more modest wander, this one, before a social event in Grange with TBH and a whole host of other people.

A small herd of cows on The Lots were seemingly a magnet for birds – as I approached several Starlings, a Magpie and a few Jackdaws all winged away from the sward around the cows. But two of the Jackdaws were less perturbed by my presence and continued to strut about between the apparently oblivious cows like a couple of minor officials puffed up with the importance of their office.

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Early Purple Orchids on The Lots.

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Shelduck on the bay, near The Cove.

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This Oystercatcher seems to have had a minor prang – the end of its beak looks like it needs remodelling.

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Cut flowers, by the benches above The Cove.

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An act of remembrance?

These benches are, for much of the year at least, a fabulous place to sit and watch the sunset and I’m sure that they are a favourite spot for a lot of people. Although, admittedly, I rarely come across anyone sitting there, I have, from time to time, had some memorable conversations here whilst watching the sun drop into the sea.

Jackdaws and Orchids on the Lots

The Late Show

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When I returned from my stroll by the Bela I wasn’t going out again. I had things to do. Important things. Household chores and work and stuff. But the low sun was painting the trees gold with dark eastern skies behind.

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So – another quick wander. I headed east first, towards Hagg Wood, but then turned down Bottom’s Lane and then back along Cove Road towards the coast.

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Female Blackbird.

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Hagg Wood.

I bumped into the Tower Captain, out walking his dogs, and he guessed, correctly, that I was sunset hunting.

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The night before I had been walking without my camera, thinking that the mass of cloud meant that the sunset wouldn’t be up to much. I was wrong, it was quite spectacular.

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But not up to the show that the skies put on this evening.

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The clouds which provided the drama were also bringing rain, although the rain never made it to me, and a faint rainbow apparently arcing down directly onto our house.

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Well worth another trip out.

The Late Show

Bowland Bronzed

Castlebarrow – The Cove – The Lots – Spring Bank

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A very short walk this one, memorable for two reasons, firstly the perfect timing which saw me arrive by the Pepperpot just as the low sun burnished the Bowland Fells with a glorious bronze light.

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It was very fleeting, lasting long enough for me to take a couple of snaps, then it was gone. The photographs don’t begin to do it justice – the colour was amazing, I can’t think that I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.

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The second notable feature of the evening was the sunset, witnessed through April showers of snow and hail.

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I wouldn’t generally consider hail as ‘A Good Thing’ but this was surprisingly gentle and serene and quite out of the ordinary, so that I found myself enjoying it, despite my misgivings.

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Yet another sunset over Morecambe Bay, but somehow they are always a bit different.

Bowland Bronzed

A Saturday Triptych – Third Time Lucky

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After tea (the ham and pease pudding were very good, in case you were wondering) I wanted to head out again. I’d been out too early to ask anyone too accompany me in the morning, and had no luck persuading any of the family to join me in the afternoon, but for my evening constitutional, Little S took pity on me and came along for a stroll. Here we are at The Cove. Well, here he is, just about visible, clambering up the rocks to the left of the smelly cave.

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I’d told him that the usually muddy surface of the Bay was firm and sandy and he was keen for a wander across. In fact, once we were on the sands, he got quite carried away and suggested following the coast down to Jack Scout. I thought that was an excellent idea, but in the interests of fairness, felt duty bound to tell him that such a walk would take a while and might interfere with his plans to watch the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who, at which point he backtracked hastily and opined that we should take the shortest possible route back through the village. So we did.

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Good to be out again, though, flying a kite or otherwise.

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I needed to be back myself, since I was going to The Village Institute, to see Lancaster band ‘The Metermen’ who play hammond organ centred funk, mostly covers of tunes by the Meters, but also the MG’s, James Brown, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Smith etc. This was the second time I’d seen them, and I knew that I would enjoy it.

I can’t find any Metermen performances online, but they covered a Cooking On 3 Burners tune, who, in turn, are responsible for this rather marvellous cover…

A Saturday Triptych – Third Time Lucky

Walking and Gawking

Eaves Wood – The Row – Bottom’s Lane – The Green – Stankelt Lane – The Lots – The Cove – Elmslack Lane

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Cherry Blossom.

The forecast was poor, but the rain was meant to stop eventually, late in the afternoon. It didn’t, but then just when it seemed set in for the entire day it suddenly both stopped raining and brightened up, leaving dramatic dark skies to the east, but sunshine overhead.

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Honesty.

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I headed up the Coronation Path (bought in 1953 by the village to give access to Eaves Wood) knowing that I would gain height with a view of those glowering clouds.

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The sun was low filtering through the trees and lighting the new Beech leaves…

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From Castlebarrow, looking over the village, I could see the hills of the Forest of Bowland were still shrouded in a layer of cloud.

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But that it was slightly brighter out over the bay…

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A Robin was serenading me from the top of a Yew tree level with the crag…

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Beech leaves in a rut, Andy Goldsworthy style?

Most of these photos were taken in the early part of the walk. After that the light was generally too poor. When I’d asked TBH to lend me her phone so that I could monitor my mileage, A had very kindly offered me hers instead, but insisted that I use a different App which she assured me was ‘better’ in some unspecified way.

This turned out to mean that the phone, rather disconcertingly, announced aloud, every kilometre, my average speed, split times, distance etc. It took me a bit by surprise the first time, to be spoken to in an American accent whilst I was ostensibly alone in the woods. It was no real surprise, on the other hand, to discover that my speed increases significantly when I stop taking photos.

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After my almost obligatory visit to The Lots and The Cove I walked past a friend’s house and discovered him having a quiet smoke on his front step. Twenty minutes later as we sat chewing the fat over a cup of tea in his kitchen, A’s phone piped up to deliver very disappointing news about my current speed and split time.

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Must try harder obviously!

Walking and Gawking